The Storm won their fourth championship on Tuesday night with a 92-59 win over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 3 from the “wubble” at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. It was the largest margin of victory for a Finals, another record-setting note to the Storm’s sweep. Their four titles are tied all-time with the Minnesota Lynx and Houston Comets.
The Storm have lost only one Finals game in franchise history and added to titles from 2004, 2010 and 2018. Bird, a 17-year veteran point guard, has been there for every championship run. She extended the league record for years between titles to 16.
Most of the current squad, including Stewart, were there for the 2018 title and consider this a repeat of it since Bird and Stewart missed 2019 because of injury. Stewart ruptured her Achilles during a Euroleague playoff game in April 2019. Bird dealt with a knee injury.
Stewart earned her second WNBA Finals MVP award in two trips to the series. It was a unanimous decision, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. Stewart scored 26 points in 25 minutes during Game 3, shooting 10 of 14 overall and 3 of 4 from 3-point range. She’s averaged 28.3 points in the Finals and had a career night in Game 1. Her six consecutive Finals games of at least 20 points is a record.
Bird scored five points in 22 minutes on the court with seven assists and two blocks. She set the Finals record with 16 assists in Game 1; the team set the Finals assists record in Game 2 with a total of 33.
Balanced attack reason for Storm sweep
The Storm relied on a balanced attack the entire series and outscored the Aces by 51 points in total. Though Stewart led the way, and Bird took control of the offense, it was a complete effort in Games 2 and 3.
Jewell Loyd neared a double-double in Game 3 with 19 points and nine rebounds alongside four assists and two steals. Alysha Clark scored 10 points with seven rebounds, five assists and a steal. Jordin Canada had 15 points in 18 minutes off the bench, shooting 7 of 12 with five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Natasha Howard led the team with three steals.
Seattle was 47.5 percent overall and kept the Aces to 34.4 percent from the floor. They won the battle on the boards, 42-33.
Storm command Game 3 for title
Las Vegas scored the first seven points of the game and led by as many as 9 in the first quarter, their largest lead of the series. League MVP A’ja Wilson nearly equaled the Storm team’s total at one point and Aces finished the first quarter trailing by only a bucket, 23-21.
They had their chance to retake the lead and even build upon it when Stewart got her third foul at 7:13 in the second. But Wilson barely saw the ball and the Storm outscored the Aces, 16-10, with Stewart on the bench. Seattle went into the half up, 43-34.
The Aces appeared defeated throughout the third quarter and continued to turn the ball over, as has been a problem in the series. It was all Seattle through the rest of the game.
Wilson once again led all Aces scorers with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. She averaged 19 in the Finals, but didn’t have much scoring help from teammates. The Aces were without two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby in the series.
Jackie Young scored 11 points off the bench, though she was 3 of 12 overall.
No other player scored in double digits. Carolyn Swords had 10 rebounds.
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